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Explaining White Privilege to the Deniers and the Haters

Explaining White Privilege (Or, Your Defense Mechanism is Showing) 

Sigh.

I guess I should have expected it, seeing as how it's nothing new. I write a piece on racism and white privilege (namely, the recently viral This is Your Nation on White Privilege), lots of folks read it, many of them like it, and others e-mail me in fits of apoplexy, or post scathing critiques on message boards in which they invite me to die, to perform various sexual acts upon myself that I feel confident are impossible, or, best of all, to "go live in the ghetto," whereupon I will come to "truly appreciate the animals" for whom I have so much affection (the phrase they use for me and that affection, of course, sounds a bit different, and I'll leave it to your imagination to conjure the quip yourself).

Though I have no desire to debate the points made in the original piece, I would like to address some of the more glaring, and yet reasonable, misunderstandings that many seem to have about the subject of white privilege. That many white folks don't take well to the term is an understatement, and quite understandable. For those of us in the dominant group, the notion that we may receive certain advantages generally not received by others is a jarring, sometimes maddening concept. And if we don't understand what the term means, and what those who use it mean as they deploy it, our misunderstandings can generate anger and heat, where really, none is called for. So let me take this opportunity to explain what I mean by white privilege.

Of course, the original piece only mentioned examples of white privilege that were directly implicated in the current presidential campaign. It made no claims beyond that. Yet many who wrote to me took issue with the notion that there was such a thing, arguing, for instance that there are lots of poor white people who have no privilege, and many folks of color who are wealthy, who do. But what this argument misses is that race and class privilege are not the same thing.

Though we are used to thinking of privilege as a mere monetary issue, it is more than that. Yes, there are rich black and brown folks, but even they are subject to racial profiling and stereotyping (especially because those who encounter them often don't know they're rich and so view them as decidedly not), as well as bias in mortgage lending, and unequal treatment in schools. So, for instance, even the children of well-off black families are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than the children of poor whites, and this is true despite the fact that there is no statistically significant difference in the rates of serious school rule infractions between white kids or black kids that could justify the disparity (according to fourteen different studies examined by Russ Skiba at Indiana University).

As for poor whites, though they certainly are suffering economically, this doesn't mean they lack racial privilege. I grew up in a very modest apartment, and economically was far from privileged. Yet I received better treatment in school (placement in advanced track classes even when I wasn't a good student), better treatment by law enforcement officers, and indeed more job opportunities because of connections I was able to take advantage of, that were pretty much unavailable to the folks of color I knew growing up. Likewise, low income whites everywhere are able to clean up, go to a job interview and be seen as just another white person, whereas a person of color, even who isn't low-income, has to wonder whether or not they might trip some negative stereotype about their group when they go for an interview or sit in the classroom answering questions from the teacher. Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but even low-income whites are more likely to own their own home than middle income black families, thanks to past advantages in housing and asset accumulation, which has allowed those whites to receive a small piece of property from their families.

The point is, privilege is as much a psychological matter as a material one. Whites have the luxury of not having to worry that our race is going to mark us negatively when looking for work, going to school, shopping, looking for a place to live, or driving for that matter: things that folks of color can't take for granted.

Let me share an analogy to make the point.

Taking things out of the racial context for a minute: imagine persons who are able bodied, as opposed to those with disabilities. If I were to say that able-bodied persons have certain advantages, certain privileges if you will, which disabled persons do not, who would argue the point? I imagine that no one would. It's too obvious, right? To be disabled is to face numerous obstacles. And although many persons with disabilities overcome those obstacles, this fact doesn't take away from the fact that they exist. Likewise, that persons with disabilities can and do overcome obstacles every day, doesn't deny that those of us who are able-bodied have an edge. We have one less thing to think and worry about as we enter a building, go to a workplace, or just try and navigate the contours of daily life. The fact that there are lots of able-bodied people who are poor, and some disabled folks who are rich, doesn't alter the general rule: on balance, it pays to be able-bodied.

That's all I'm saying about white privilege: on balance, it pays to be a member of the dominant racial group. It doesn't mean that a white person will get everything they want in life, or win every competition, but it does mean that there are general advantages that we receive.

So, for instance, studies have found that job applicants with white sounding names are 50% more likely to receive a call-back for a job interview than applicants with black-sounding names, even when all job-related qualifications and credentials are the same.

Other studies have found that white men with a criminal record are more likely to get a call-back for an interview than black male job applicants who don't have one, even when all requisite qualifications, demeanor and communication styles are the same.

Others have found that white women are far more likely than black women to be hired for work through temporary agencies, even when the black women have more experience and are more qualified.

Evidence from housing markets has found that there are about two million cases of race-based discrimination against people of color every year in the United States. That's not just bad for folks of color; the flipside is that there are, as a result, millions more places I can live as a white person.

Or consider criminal justice. Although data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that whites are equally or more likely than blacks or Latinos to use drugs, it is people of color (blacks and Latinos mostly) who comprise about 90 percent of the persons incarcerated for a drug possession offense. Despite the fact that white men are more likely to be caught with drugs in our car (on those occasions when we are searched), black men remain about four times more likely than white men to be searched in the first place, according to Justice Department findings. That's privilege for the dominant group.

That's the point: privilege is the flipside of discrimination. If people of color face discrimination, in housing, employment and elsewhere, then the rest of us are receiving a de facto subsidy, a privilege, an advantage in those realms of daily life. There can be no down without an up, in other words.

None of this means that white folks don't face challenges. Of course we do, and some of them (based on class, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or other factors) are systemic and institutionalized. But on balance, we can take for granted that we will receive a leg-up on those persons of color with whom we share a nation.

And no, affirmative action doesn't change any of this.

Despite white fears to the contrary, even with affirmative action in place (which, contrary to popular belief does not allow quotas or formal set-asides except in those rare cases where blatant discrimination has been proven) whites hold about ninety percent of all the management level jobs in this country, receive about ninety-four percent of government contract dollars, and hold ninety percent of tenured faculty positions on college campuses. And in spite of affirmative action programs, whites are more likely than members of any other racial group to be admitted to their college of first choice.* And according to a study released last year, for every student of color who received even the slightest consideration from an affirmative action program in college, there are two whites who failed to meet normal qualification requirements at the same school, but who got in anyway because of parental influence, alumni status or because other favors were done.

Furthermore, although white students often think that so-called minority scholarships are a substantial drain on financial aid resources that would otherwise be available to them, nothing could be further from the truth. According to a national study by the General Accounting Office, less than four percent of scholarship money in the U.S. is represented by awards that consider race as a factor at all, while only 0.25 percent (that's one quarter of one percent for the math challenged) of all undergrad scholarship dollars come from awards that are restricted to persons of color alone. What's more, the idea that large numbers of students of color receive the benefits of race-based scholarships is lunacy of the highest order. In truth, only 3.5 percent of college students of color receive any scholarship even partly based on race, suggesting that such programs remain a pathetically small piece of the financial aid picture in this country, irrespective of what a gaggle of reactionary white folks might believe.**

In other words, despite the notion that somehow we have attained an equal opportunity, or color-blind society, the fact is, we are far from an equitable nation. People of color continue to face obstacles based solely on color, and whites continue to reap benefits from the same. None of this makes whites bad people, and none of it means we should feel guilty or beat ourselves up. But it does mean we need to figure out how we're going to be accountable for our unearned advantages. One way is by fighting for a society in which those privileges will no longer exist, and in which we will be able to stand on our own two feet, without the artificial crutch of racial advantage to prop us up. We need to commit to fighting for racial equity and challenging injustice at every turn, not only because it harms others, but because it diminishes us as well (even as it pays dividends), and because it squanders the promise of fairness and equity to which we claim to adhere as Americans.

It's about responsibility, not guilt. And if one can't see the difference between those two things, there is little that this or any other article can probably do. Perhaps starting with a dictionary would be better.

*U.S Federal Glass Ceiling Commission, Good for Business: Making Full Use of the Nation's Human Capital. (Washington DC: Bureau of National Affairs, March 1995); Fred L. Pincus, Reverse Discrimination: Dismantling the Myth. (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003), 18; Roberta J. Hill, "Far More Than Frybread," in Race in the College Classroom: Pedagogy and Politics, ed. Bonnie TuSmith and Maureen T. Reddy. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press), 169; Sylvia Hurtado and Christine Navia, "Reconciling College Access and the Affirmative Action Debate," in Affirmative Action's Testament of Hope, ed. Mildred Garcia (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1997), 115.
**U.S. General Accounting Office, 1994. "Information on Minority Targeted Scholarships," B251634. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, January; Stephen L. Carter, "Color-Blind and Color-Active," 1992. The Recorder. January 3.

 

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Amen!

A (white) friend referred me to your first article on white privilege, which I thought was brilliant.  As a black man, it's nice to see when a white guy "gets it".  And, I love it when you say things that, if I said them, they'd be dismissed as just playing the "race card". 

I appreciate you going further in your follow up article and l love the illustration you give of a physical disability.  That was a great analogy.

Peace,

Brian

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Thank You!

Here's hoping I can offset some of the nasty notes you've received about the "Nation on White Privilege" piece: bless you for getting it! And for the last line in today's blog. I'm a white woman who has enjoyed some white privileges and suffered through some sexist struggles, so while I can't pretend to understand the American black experience, I can relate to it.  And you have nailed it again: it's about responsibility, not guilt (nor its cousin, blame). 

So thank, you, thank you, thank you for two things: getting it, and being white and male and getting it. Your voice will affect change, because those on the fence will not see your comments as uppity, whiny, playing the "black card" or the "woman card," but as straight up and at the least something to think about. And for those of us with you on your side of the fence, thanks for being so erudite and speaking out.  

You go, Guy! 

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Where did you come from?

Because you're a genius! Barack should have picked you for VP! Keep your head up, brother, and keep speaking the truth for some of us without a voice.

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the points made in the original piece...

when you write such an incendiary piece a few weeks before an election its going to get forwarded around more than usual. that's why it's extra important to make sure that your arguments are grounded in facts and solid reasoning.

while you have retreated to more well-established, verifiable examples of racism in this follow-up, it is precisely the points made in the original piece that are weak. they are so weak as to do damage to the advancement of racial equality.

the first and most serious error is to ascribe to white people in general the beliefs that would lead one to buy into the mccain campaign's rhetoric. this is intellectually dishonest. not even mccain's strongest supporters wholy buy into his rhetoric, and i doubt very much that he himself believes everything he's saying. unfortunately, your rant is based upon the assumption that your average white person actually thinks this way.

part of what makes obama such a compelling candidate is that he is above dishonest racial politics of the kind you espouse in your original piece. yet one of his campaign's biggest weaknesses is that too many of his supporters are all to ready to overplay the so-called "race card."

obama faces real challenges due to his race. many non-racist white people better understand the personal strengths and shortcomings of white candidates because those are the shortcomings common to their culture. obama has to overcome this cultural gap on matters such as community organizing, and church pastors if he is to get elected. that's a tough task. however it is my opinion that this fuzzy thinking of yours is so dishonest and offputting that it actually does more harm than good to obama's campaign. if you want to think that way, that's fine, but when advocating for an obama presidency you should follow obama's lead and stick to the real issues.

p.s. despite your statement to the contrary the way affirmative action is actually enacted is often through unofficial off-the-books quotas.

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don, can you read polls? The

don, can you read polls? The average white person DOES buy his bullshit, and is going to vote for him...you can act like that's not true, or that racism and white privilege have nothing to do with it if you like. You are also free to believe in the tooth fairy and santa...

The fact is, you claim my examples in the original are weak but give no example of that, or reason why...nice. The fact is, McCain and Palin get away with things that no person of color would...that is the point. Please tell me specifically where I'm wrong or stop wasting my time.

And you are wrong about affirmative action: 100%. I wrote an entire book about this in 2005, which of course you won't read. Fine, but as someone who writes and speaks about this subject regularly, and has studied the subject for 20 years, let me be the first to say that you don't know what you're talking about. You of course give no examples of such de facto quotas, so...why should anyone take you seriously?

 

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Culture and Race

Tim-

My name is Jacob Quimby. I am an aspiring revolutionary and a fan of yours for years. You helped me find my focus on college. . . Moving on, I think Don may also need some help with race and culture. You see Don, these 2 things are mutually exclusive, not one in the same. Race can have culture, but culture doesnt necessarily pertain to a race. Here you go Don:

Culture: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/culture

Race: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Race

Hope that helps give perspecive.

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Aspiring revolutionary?

I hope you mean in the speed of ideology ( as in revolution vs. evolution) and not the terrorist use of the term.  I question you since I checked your definition link to Race and found nothing relevant.

I might recommend to your fellow revolutionaries...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race (classification of human beings)

I hope you were being sarcastic but if not, Chill with the revolution stuff

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Get A Dictionary, Please

Tai: Every time you post a comment, you show that you are completely failing to read anything on the topic. Which only makes you and your points look worse each successive day.

Let's go back to South Africa for examples here because apparently you're not understanding unless we point to apartheid. Wasn't the movement that got rid of it and practically created a new movement "revolutionary"? Yet that movement was clearly a movement against racism, right? Wasn't the elimination of Jim Crow revolutionary? Gandhi's fight against British racist, imperial rule of his people?

See, Tai, to not only equate revolution with violence but in fact TERRORISTIC violence shows that you're an idealogue and not seriously engaging with the issues. There are many definitions of revolution, and one frequently used by progressive, radical and revolutionary people is the concept of changing fundamentally defining institutions. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolution . This really is the most commonly used definition on the topic, incidentally.

In our society, we face the consequences of an institution of white privilege and a parallel institution of institutional racism against non-whites. These institutions are unjust and trample on all of our prerogatives as human beings. These institutions need to be changed. Maybe violence might be necessary to do so; I would hope not, for a variety of reasons. But I'd daresay that you'd find violence justified were this any other context. Pointing to a definition and article on the racial classification of human beings only WEAKENS your point, because that classification is social and needs to be altered socially, as the article makes clear...

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?? I was completely on on point...

I was commenting on the previous post, you are obviously reading something else into my post.

The author was not clear on his definition of "revolutionary" and I'm attacked because I point out that his link was not relevant?

your comment: " Maybe violence might be necessary to do so; I would hope not, for a variety of reasons." is EXACTLY why I highlighted the post.

I can't think of an instance where violence to fight racism is a good thing because racism derives from faulty logic and viewpoints, usually based on irrational ideas and conceptions.

And about that chill pill...

Respectfully,

Tai

 

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Further Thoughts on Revolution

And I was replying to it. You don't have a lot of trust to bank on here, Tai...

I described what "revolutionary" meant in context. Because I don't think people need to chill on the "revolutionary" stuff. So I don't agree with your argument. Make sense?

"your comment: " Maybe violence might be necessary to do so; I would hope not, for a variety of reasons." is EXACTLY why I highlighted the post."

But if it IS necessary, then a revolutionary will use violence. Just as the Spanish Revolutionaries, and the American Revolutionaries, and the French Revolutionaries, and Black Panthers.

"I can't think of an instance where violence to fight racism is a good thing because racism derives from faulty logic and viewpoints, usually based on irrational ideas and conceptions."

That's an atrocious argument.

Was the Holocaust racist or not, yes or no Tai?

If so, then it didn't "derive" from "faulty logic and viewpoints". Gas chambers are not "irrational ideas and conceptions". They are gas chambers, and trains, and slave camps. Racism is real . It has real institutional consequences, even though it in concept is abstract. Class is abstract as well, but in the real world thanks to it some people are poor and weak and others rich and strong.

Now, whether or not you agree that violence to stop the Holocaust is wrong (and you clearly do given your earlier comments about WW2), it's not absurd to say that the Holocaust could have been stopped by the train tracks being bombed and the soldiers killed or captured and the Jews freed.

In America, the institutions that commit racism are harder to defeat with violence, this is true. This is why the revolutionary tactics against them are usually quite different. But under Jim Crow, for example, violent revolutionary tactics WOULD have been justified. And during Hurricane Katrina, it may have been quite justified for blacks in the Superdome and the city to fight back against government forces who were keeping them trapped or were preventing them from having food. The fact that blacks didn't is at least in a part a testament to actually how quite "chill" they are.

Meanwhile, against economic forces like the corporations that rule our economy, I could imagine force to take over the means of production for workers would be quite justified.

Say what you will about this assessment, it's not absurd.

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Racist Subversion and Political Operatives

Tim:

The fact that you even have to explain or clarify your comments is a testament to how powerful the self re-enforcing monolithic pervasiveness of racist propaganda is in our society. In a nutshell, it’s called racist subversion: Since the success of the civil rights movement and overt-in-your-face racism and bigotry is largely frowned upon. The racists have resorted to what amounts to an insurgency taken right out of something akin to George Orwell’s 1984. Whereas, any and everything involving race has been turned on its head.

Ignorance is Strength, War is Peace, Hate is Love, Lies are Truth, The Oppressors are the Oppressed. There are several characteristics that are present when these tools of the empire spread their message:

(1) Racists can make racist attacks against blacks but when blacks complain about it or attempt to address it in any constructive way they are accused of playing the race card, crying and complaining. Of course, this criticism isn't limited to blacks but the wrath of the happy-pawns-of-the-empire is brought against anyone who dares challenge the stupidity that parades as reason.

(2) Jim Crow Racism lives i.e. (the black man has no rights that a white man is bound to respect.) You can see this play out regarding any issues involving black people. Forget the fact that whites have continued to benefit and blacks continue to be disadvantaged by institutional racism. Let any black person anywhere get into a school a job etc and the racists throw a fit about how this is unfair to them as if though they are entitled by god to be the chosen ones when the choice involves choosing someone who is black. For example, they never complain about the other white people who beat them out for a position or a slot at a school. But let 98% of those people be white and 2% of them be black and all hell will break lose over the 2% blacks. Never mind questioning the credentials or lack-thereof of the 98% of whites in positions etc. The racists don’t see anything wrong with that. In other words, just another example of racist double standards for which there are many.

(3) These racists always have some tough love advice for black people; work harder, get off welfare, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, leave the country. But when they (racist whites) feel like they are oppressed they never take the advice they so eagerly offer to others. I believe this is called white victimization which in the context of history, and the modus operandi of this country is a lot of noise about nothing.

(4) Self righteous indignation: There are several easily identifiable characteristics of the self righteous (a) They can be counted on to offer up pseudo-scholarly dissertation as to why any writing, speach or other social observations that points out the role race place in given situation is (1) racists (obfuscation) (2) Misguided and political in nature (obfuscation) or (3) Offensive (phony outrage). (b) These souls are very passionate when it comes to tearing down, analyzing, dissecting and pointing out in their opinion why such analysis is wrong or suspect. However, they have one particular short-coming, they are generally empty-handed and silent when it comes to providing proof that their passion and righteousness for parsing arguments extend to the mountains of racists commentary floating around. That is, they can never point to a single instance where they have spent as much time an energy debunking, debating the merits or lackthereof of racist propaganda. Therefore, one should not take seriously the concerns of hypocrites who real purpose is to distract from an otherwise productive conversation.

(5) Conflate and Confuse: When the name Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakan, Al Sharpton or Rev, Wright are invoked and associated with the word racist and hate speech. Then you are dealing with a hypocrite of the highest order. None of these people the racists love to hate have ever (a) Called for or participated in any actions that have resulted in wanton death destruction or violence against any white person. (b) They have never advocated for or promoted the assassination of white leaders. (c) They have never placed any bombs in churches to blow up people. Therefore, the idea that any of these people are racists would be laughable if it weren't so sad. Furthermore, I find it interesting that people who harbor and repeat such non-sense and empty-headedness know very little about the people they are so quick to demonize but that's the magic of privilege one doesn't have to know or understand anything. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is that most people agree with such stupidity out of a sense of tribalistic bonding. One way to slow the spread of this cancer is to constantly challenge it in the hopes that the feeble-minded will not be impressed by such pseudo-intellectual racists propaganda.

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re: polls?

mr. wise, sorry for the delay in responding.

before i get to my problems with your original post i want to stay on the subject of voting.

the relevent group here is not those with deep seated racist beliefs. they aren't going to be won over in the next 7 weeks.

there are voters with softer prejudices who are still undecided. what matters now is convincing those swing voters to make the right decision, and race based whining, however justified, is not the way to do that. obama can still get elected on the issues. more generally, obama has shown that a soft touch is the most effective way to deal with race. this is why i think your original post is dangerous. the most important thing, i think, is to not overstate the effects of racism - that's a poison pill that will prevent minds from being changed. there's plenty of real racism out there. there's no need to oversell the problem.

as for specific problems with your post:

i'll start with minor quibbles. on the teenage pregnancy thing: not "everyone" has reacted the way you've described... many people have judged her and her parents. i certainly haven't seen or read anyone describing the baby's father as "responsible." did bill o'reilly say this? in any case it's not a widely held opinion.

on palin's college years & experience: the gop and the dems run different kinds of candidates. we're talking about the party that ran a man as mediocre as bush against a man as intelligent and accomplished as gore. we're talking about the party that had an ex-actor as president. is it because of their whiteness? 17 years ago they also got a mediocre judge appointed to the supreme court and he was african american.

the party requirements of the gop are different. their message is more uniform, and their candidates are often able to get away with being little more than spokesmodels for policies that others have prepared. that's why sen graham is willing to say things like: "She can do fine on foreign policy because of the infrastructure we have" For the gop a candidate doesn't have to be personally accomplished, they just have to be reliable. they can get away with that, while obama and the dems cannot, but it's not because he's black.

on gun ownership: if obama were a hunter, it's my belief that this would actually help his image among working class whites. but there's really no precedent for a black hunting enthusiast running for office so i think it's rather irresponsible to jump to the conclusion that owning guns would hurt obama, and that this imagined discrimination constitutes an easy-to-understand example of white privilege.

in a conflation of two issues, you seem to imply that obama's blackness is what allows palin supporters to accuse him of sexism. it seems pretty clear to me that it's his and biden's, not to mention the press corps, maleness that has allowed her to play the victim. this is BS, and people should be angry about it, but it's not white privilege.

the church issue has more to do with the generally unfair treatment of liberals on relgious matters and on the military. if kerry had been friends with rev. wright 4 years ago he too would have been attacked for that relationship.

now to the real meat of my disagreement with the original post. the pledge & constitutional issues have nothing to do with white privilege. george bush got away with similar comments when running against kerry. is it white privilege that allowed bush, a draft dodger, to portray himself as a more in touch with the armed forces than kerry, a decorated vet? if anything it was GOP privilege, or just plain old hypocrisy. you're taking a sample of size 1 and trying to explain every disparity as being due to race. however on these issues, it's been previously established that democratic candidates get treated badly, and race hasn't changed anything.

american elections are always full of dirty tricks, underhanded innuendo, and unjustified slurs. obama's blackness has been used against him in some cases (the mocking of his community organizer past, for example). unfortunately, too many of the examples you've written about are instances of crying wolf.

p.s. on the question of affirmative action, you're right, i haven't written any books on the subject. but i have had personal experience. in my own involvement in hiring decisions i've seen unofficial quotas enforced, as well as application quotas (i.e. no official set-asides for any minority, but a requirement that at least one female or minority candidate apply for the job).

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Full Reply

"there are voters with softer prejudices who are still undecided. what matters now is convincing those swing voters to make the right decision, and race based whining, however justified, is not the way to do that. obama can still get elected on the issues. more generally, obama has shown that a soft touch is the most effective way to deal with race."

You're joking, right?

Obama has abandoned even the pretense of dealing with racism. He's not even going to TRY to deal with the issues of white privilege or institutional racism, and has often denied that these even exist. He has decided to get elected and has had to do so by starching not only himself but his entire platform

White folks keep saying that a soft touch is necessary. Then each time a Rosa Parks or an MLK or a Malcolm X or a Jesse Jackson shows up and accomplishes major change, we hear hand-wringing that, well, good for them, but couldn't they have been NICER about it? White people shouldn't have to be coddled. Even claiming that shows how deeply entrenched white privilege is.

"this is why i think your original post is dangerous. the most important thing, i think, is to not overstate the effects of racism - that's a poison pill that will prevent minds from being changed."

This is one Tim commonly fields.

Don, did you know that at the height of Jim Crow, a major national poll showed that whites thought that blacks had an even chance to succeed?

That is, during a time when blacks were specifically denied equal access by law to things like FHA loans, and when they had to sit on the back of the bus, and drink from different water fountains, and go to different schools, whites thought that there was nothing to be said about racism.

And after Katrina, a majority of whites routinely expressed that they thought that Katrina said NOTHING about race.

Notice what this means, Don. Numerous blacks publically said that Katrina said plenty about race. Kanye West clearly thought it did. So, by sheer definition, Katrina at the least said SOMETHING about race: That blacks are more likely to see it whan whites.

The ONLY way that someone can look at a poll, think that FEMA's response to Katrina was spot on and/or that its mistakes had nothing to do with race, think that an image that showed a white man looting wasn't called looting but an image that showed a black man was, think that the numerous press admissions that they had blatantly lied about rapes in the Superdomes or people firing at helicopters, and then think that the fact that blacks think this and whites don't, then mark down that Katrina had nothing to say about race or racism in this country, is if one thinks that black people's opinions don't matter.

I imagine some people will get on my case for this, but let me make this doubly clear. If two races are differing as to whether racism exists, and one race thinks that there's not even a disagreement, the only way that can happen is if the other race doesn't even care to listen.

The point of all this, Don, is to show that whites react even to completely uncontroversial and obvious claims about white privilege by denying it. So how exactly should we proceed, Don? What claims about white privilege do YOU think white Americans are willing to tolerate? That the KKK is bad?

"there's plenty of real racism out there. there's no need to oversell the problem."

Frankly, I have no idea how one COULD oversell the problem. I mean, I suppose someone could claim that blacks are being sent to extermination camps, but the idea for whites that the fact 2/3 of the prison system is black might be a sign of racism is absurd to them too, so even that isn't too much of an exaggeration.

as for specific problems with your post:

"i'll start with minor quibbles. on the teenage pregnancy thing: not "everyone" has reacted the way you've described... many people have judged her and her parents. i certainly haven't seen or read anyone describing the baby's father as "responsible." did bill o'reilly say this? in any case it's not a widely held opinion."

Here you are just missing the point by a colossal margin. Again: Lots of people can criticize Palin, or Bristol, or Bristol's fiance, or indeed any white person. But such criticisms are never taken to be a criticism of the whole RACE at large. If there's mistakes, they're their one. And while people are critical, there is much more compassion and much more willingness to, say, agree that it's a private matter and peoples' families are off limits. But when the person is black, it shows a widespread problem with the race.

Why do you imagine Obama agreed to that? You honestly don't think that at least in part he had to not criticize the pretty young white girl because he is black and doing so would be viewed negatively by many white voters?

"the party requirements of the gop are different. their message is more uniform, and their candidates are often able to get away with being little more than spokesmodels for policies that others have prepared. that's why sen graham is willing to say things like: "She can do fine on foreign policy because of the infrastructure we have" For the gop a candidate doesn't have to be personally accomplished, they just have to be reliable. they can get away with that, while obama and the dems cannot, but it's not because he's black."

But in the case of Bush, Bush went to Yale and Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. were all long-time politicos. Yet McCain's educational history is limited and Palin's is simply dreadful, and Palin has no federal or foreign policy experience. This might be the least experienced ticket that the Repubs have run in decades. To think that they're willing to run such a weak ticket but that that has nothing to do with race whatsoever is pretty silly in my view.

"on gun ownership: if obama were a hunter, it's my belief that this would actually help his image among working class whites."

Then I think you're showing naivete. But let's say you're right. He would at the least constantly have to SAY he is a hunter, because if he didn't many whites would wonder why he owns guns.

"but there's really no precedent for a black hunting enthusiast running for office so i think it's rather irresponsible to jump to the conclusion that owning guns would hurt obama, and that this imagined discrimination constitutes an easy-to-understand example of white privilege."

But that's not the issue. The issue is that in general Palin and her extended family, including in-laws, can loudly boast about how much they love shooting and killing things, whereas I think even you can admit that if Obama's daughter married at age 17 after getting pregnant a young black man who bragged about how much he loved guns we'd be hearing that she was promiscuous and he was a thug.

"in a conflation of two issues, you seem to imply that obama's blackness is what allows palin supporters to accuse him of sexism."

Why isn't it? As Tim pointed out compellingly to those white feminists who wanted to vote for McCain instead of Obama because of Hillary's loss, they were willing to swallow the lack of a female candidate every other year besides this one, nor are they willing to vote for the Green candidate. The point is that a lot of white LIBERAL or progressive feminists are joining the bandwagon to defend Palin. I think it's fairly clear that wouldn't happen were Obama not black.

"it seems pretty clear to me that it's his and biden's, not to mention the press corps, maleness that has allowed her to play the victim. this is BS, and people should be angry about it, but it's not white privilege."

So you don't think that there's anything to the imagery of a black man assaulting a white woman that gets white haunches up? Please.

The point of the Palin example, though, isn't what you're saying it is. Pay close attention. Palin, being a white woman, can defend RIGHTFUL criticisms of her lack of experience and her lack of knowledge by using allegations of sexism as a defense. White feminists rally together to protect her. Meanwhile, Obama nor his campaign and even many of his supporters can't cry "racism" when Obama's qualifications are questioned, even with Obama's extensive educational and political history. The difference couldn't be clearer, I think.

"the church issue has more to do with the generally unfair treatment of liberals on relgious matters and on the military. if kerry had been friends with rev. wright 4 years ago he too would have been attacked for that relationship."

Oh, come on. Now you're not even trying. The fact that Obama is a part of a black church and the fact that this is even a serious problem for his campaign shows how mortally terrified whites are of blacks who dare to be anything but ridiculously ultra-patriotic.

"now to the real meat of my disagreement with the original post. the pledge & constitutional issues have nothing to do with white privilege. george bush got away with similar comments when running against kerry."

The question is, to what degree? Bush actually lost against Kerry, mind you, according to Palast, so apparently not much.

As I noted in a response to ME: Even Rove has said publically that McCain's ads don't meet the standards of truth. McCain has really dropped to a new low. To pretend that Obama's race couldn't be a culprit is really silly.

"is it white privilege that allowed bush, a draft dodger, to portray himself as a more in touch with the armed forces than kerry, a decorated vet?"

No, clearly not. Doesn't mean that white privilege isn't active in this election.

"if anything it was GOP privilege, or just plain old hypocrisy. you're taking a sample of size 1 and trying to explain every disparity as being due to race."

Actually, his sample size was much larger than 1, and he could easily add hundreds of examples. But if the disparities between previous election years and this year are real, what else would be the culprit besides race, Don?

"however on these issues, it's been previously established that democratic candidates get treated badly, and race hasn't changed anything."

Not this badly. Comparative arguments are clearly not your strong suit.

"american elections are always full of dirty tricks, underhanded innuendo, and unjustified slurs. obama's blackness has been used against him in some cases (the mocking of his community organizer past, for example). unfortunately, too many of the examples you've written about are instances of crying wolf."

Don, you're just not replying to Tim or other people here when you say this. Again: Of course politics constantly have dirty tricks. The question is how many people believe the dirty tricks. In the case of the Rev. Wright, the Republicans didn't even need to make the ARGUMENTS, whites castigate him as the next Farrakhan.

You have replied to what looks like three or four examples out of the eight or so Tim provided. It's fairly weak.

"p.s. on the question of affirmative action, you're right, i haven't written any books on the subject. but i have had personal experience. in my own involvement in hiring decisions i've seen unofficial quotas enforced, as well as application quotas (i.e. no official set-asides for any minority, but a requirement that at least one female or minority candidate apply for the job)."

So your own experience shows that that happens. But the problem, Don, is that THAT'S NOT AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. The government does not mandate that. So anti-affirmative action advocates like to bring it up, like yourself, but a government law that said that no affirmative action could occur could not stop that process. That, simply put, is a company wanting to maybe cover their ass legally or have an edge in appealing to a demographic or preemptively abort government investigation or honestly wanting more diversity (as many companies increasingly are figuring out what they need). From your description of the process, it occurs every hiring cycle for maybe one applicant. The rest of the applicants will be hired by the old boys' network. I'm also willing to bet that your in experience applicants hired under such a system get less promotions and more firings and disciplinary action.

Notice, by the way, that if they are in fact covering their ass by bringing in a few token blacks and women, that would actually PROVE, not disprove, the broader white privilege. The fact remains that blacks, minorities and women uncontroversially face far more discrimination than assistance in employment. The OFCCP, the agency that enforces the Civil Rights Act, estimates that 75% of companies they survey discriminate, and numerous independent and government studies (as well as polls done OF businesses, like a major one in Forbes where businessmen overwhelmingly admitted that they didn't give fair shots to black or female candidates) estimate roughly that level or higher.

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"White folks keep saying

"White folks keep saying that a soft touch is necessary."

the kind of liberal condescension that would lead you to assume I am white is part of the reason I think obama's supporters should stick to the obama campaign's script on matters of race. obama knows how to handle race, his supporters for the most part do not, however well intentioned they might be.

"Even claiming that shows how deeply entrenched white privilege is."

you see white privilege like haley joel osment sees dead people. there's nothing i find more annoying than white people coddling minorities by acting like racism is a bigger deal than it actually is. it's like white liberals have a weird racism-fetish.

"What claims about white privilege do YOU think white Americans are willing to tolerate?"

in the context of an election campaign? none. that's why i think we need to sell obama on the basis of his other strengths.

"So you don't think that there's anything to the imagery of a black man assaulting a white woman that gets white haunches up? Please."

not all black men are  perceived the same way. obama is more tiger woods, and will smith than shug knight. in his mannerisms and way of speaking he is not physically imposing. i think you're drawing conclusions that are unfounded here ("assualting"?!). in any case it's biden that will be debating palin, not obama.

 

"You have replied to what looks like three or four examples out of the eight or so Tim provided. It's fairly weak."

that's because i more or less agree with mr. wise on the other points.  i'm not arguing that white privilege doesn't exist, i'm saying that overheated rhetoric damages the national conversation.

you're assumptions about my workplace are completely off mark (for example; my boss is a woman)... but i don't think it's productive to argue this. i just wanted to point out that what the law technically has to say about quotas is not necessarily what gets put into practice.

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Liberal Fetish, Eh?

"the kind of liberal condescension that would lead you to assume I am white is part of the reason I think obama's supporters should stick to the obama campaign's script on matters of race. obama knows how to handle race, his supporters for the most part do not, however well intentioned they might be."

Not replying to the argument doesn't behoove you. I made no assumption about you, but instead noted what whites in general say. By your reasoning, Larry Elder or Sowell or any black conservative demonstrates that Obama should keep to the white-friendly script.

"you see white privilege like haley joel osment sees dead people. there's nothing i find more annoying than white people coddling minorities by acting like racism is a bigger deal than it actually is. it's like white liberals have a weird racism-fetish."

So then how serious do you think racism is? Everyone likes to begin the discussion by saying that the other side sees it either too often or too infrequently. I would daresay, of course, that blacks and minorities who experience it can inform us if they feel it and engage with it at least at a micro-social level, so that their testimony should beat out white folks', but that's only a small help.

What we can demonstrate concretely and obviously is that white privilege clearly exists, and has massive implications and advantages for whites. Similarly, we can demonstrate that blacks face discrimination in almost every avenue of public life. You don't deny either of these claims. So tell me, what claims about race DO you think are exaggerated or inaccurate?

Incidentally, I have no idea who exactly is "coddling" minorities. This "coddling" seems to be a pretty insignificant phenomenon since it does not stop racism from devastating their equal opportunity for educational and economic advancement... unless, of course, you subscribe to idiotic and racist theories that claim that the plight of the black community is their own fault, as if a whole community could possibly have traits that would lead to them having 1/12th of the wealth they should have.

"that's because i more or less agree with mr. wise on the other points. i'm not arguing that white privilege doesn't exist, i'm saying that overheated rhetoric damages the national conversation."

The problem is that each case buttresses the other. Each example he gives shows a gradation. Some are clear examples, others are more mixed. One is supposed to take the point as a whole, not individually.

"you're [sic] assumptions about my workplace are completely off mark (for example; my boss is a woman)..."

That's not what I said, now is it? I said that those hired under this supposed unofficial affirmative action are few and far between, promoted less often and fired more often. Is this true in your experience, yes or no?

Of course, it's you who assumes that this phenomenon is in fact the de facto way that we institute affirmative action, meaning that you are assuming the state of thousands of workplaces. This is especially galling because while I act from a place of ignorance and ask you to expound on your particular situation, you act from a place of information where you could easily verify that your apparent belief that affirmative action gives blacks and women sufficient opportunities is utter garbage.

"i just wanted to point out that what the law technically has to say about quotas is not necessarily what gets put into practice."

And, far more important, what the law says about basic anti-discrimination, not even affirmative action but simply enacting the duties that businesses have under the Civil Right Act not to engage in discrimination during hiring, firing and promotion, is also not necessarily put into practice. In fact, it is flouted in the vast majority of the American workplace.

 

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Don't Bother

Don,

I'd be awfully suprised if Tim hadn't intended to use the word "everyone" - when I mentioned this fact in the previous entry, I was told I was suffering from "white victim mentality." Apparently, if you are white and disagreed with any of his points, it's because you misinterpreted what he was saying and have a guilty conscience, not because he didn't say what he meant. And after all, who'd let a little thing like clarity get in the way of a nice big politically incindiary bombshell like that?

The dictionary definition of "everyone" is pretty much irrelevant to Tim, because he supposedly meant it as "everyone I'm generalizing about in this entry" and not "all whites" like it actually means in the context in which it was written. I think he did this on purpose, so when white people take offense to being generalized, they could be blamed. It's a dumb gotcha tactic and will just infuriate the moderates he was (presumably) trying to influence.

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Grow Up, Please

Ben: I brought this up to you last time and you decided to leave the argument be. Now you bring it up again, in absolute dishonesty, while compounding that dishonesty by ascribing negative tactics and inclinations to Mr. Wise (instead of simply alleging ignorance or over-zealousness). Fact is that "EVERYONE" uses terms like "everyone", "no one", etc. irresponsibly. If I say, "Everyone agrees murder is wrong", will you REALLY raise the quibble that, hey, obviously murderers don't and maybe some sociopaths and people who raise idiotic philosophical quibbles?

When people are writing anything, they have to balance between facts and polemics. They have to make their point as strongly as possible without resorting to manipulation. Not ONCE did Tim imply that by "everyone" he meant statistically 100% of whites, and in fact said quite the opposite. So please, learn the colloquial meaning of words. Or, rather, stop being dishonest about said knowledge, because I am damn sure you would not raise this argument in any other context.

If you think that the group he's talking about is not sufficient to be called "everyone", make the argument. Don't just say that there's exceptions to the rule. You haven't actually DISPROVED any of his points' validity, you've just raised a smokescreen over language because I daresay you don't have any compelling responses.

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u

Don mcpherson,

i suspect i know you. i believe i worked at a place where you swam on a regular basis and that you attended a famous ivy league university. that being said, let me tell you that, first of all, i've found little to disagree with as it pertains to tim's writings. he gives me hope for the world's folks of european descent. i'm tired from yesterday, but i'll be enjoining you in the future. if you're who i think you are, it was great getting to know you years ago and i look forward to our exchanges in the near future as it pertains to tim wise's writings.

how 'bout dat michael phelps?!

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Calling you out

Mr. Wise obviously just called you out, but, I am going to say... Wouldn't it be McCain that is being "intellectually dishonest" if he is spouting of "rhetoric" which even "he doesn't believe all of"? And what does it say about someone that someone could be one of McCains strongest supporters and not believe the things coming out of his mouth? Isn't that admitting those people are lazy and/or ignorant and/or "intellectually dishonest".

And more importantly the original piece (which was in fact the complete opposite of weak and apparently may have just been way too over your head for you to follow) wasn't trying to "advocate for an Obama presidency". The original piece was taking current events that are playing out here in America, to illustrate the condition of white privelage. It was called "This is your Nation on White Privelage". The title alone is concise, brilliant, efficent, accurate, and effective. The entire peice paints a picture of what white privelage looks like in modern society, using actual events playing out right now to make the point. I just can't believe you missed that! There was/is nothing "fuzzy" going on there.

Wendy

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back in a bit

i'm too busy to respond right now, but if you'll permit me some time, I'll be back later to address mr. wise's post.

real quick though: both mccain and obama are saying things that they dont really believe. that's politics. it is intelectually dishonest, but it's also changing the subject. we're talking about white privilge here.

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Rivers and Valleys

But Don, the point is that certain types of dishonesty get far more impact, attention and success because of existing racial dynamics. It helps if you think of one vector as a river and another vector as alterations in the terrain. Sure, the river (in this case, political nastiness) is always going to flow to the ocean downhill. But race alters the landscape and makes it so the river flows more quickly (or the political nastiness is more effective) at different areas.

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quotas & percentage of white votes

"p.s. despite your statement to the contrary the way affirmative action is actually enacted is often through unofficial off-the-books quotas."

I know that Tim address this, but one doesn't need to write a book to see Don's logic is self serving. How, exactly, do you even know of these "quotas" if by your claim they are "unoffcial" AND "off-the-books"???

In other words ... Don "knows" Tim is "wrong". And the "evidence" isn't actually kept, so that is why no one knows about it. Please.

And Tim I hope you are wrong about the 37% of white folks that may vote for obama. I kind of hope that the youth vote (which I hope is less racist) has a much higher turn out.

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And Even If...

In any respect, were Don right, it wouldn't mean a damn thing. Because, apparently, even Don knows that these unofficial off-the-book don't actually change the actual proportions of blacks in employment, college, etc. and aren't sufficient to give blacks a level playing field.

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Too far

I'm disappointed in the blog entry in question, not because I don't believe in white privilege (I do), but because some of the points lower down on the list start to be a bit of a stretch, even to me. On points like the guns and teen pregnancy, I absolutely agree, but on others, truly, you could turn the tables and make some of those points in the reverse. A lot of people (I might even say the majority) of this country thinks Sarah Palin is a redneck hillbilly and Barack Obama a class act.

I take issue with the point for example, that "White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced." This is not exactly true. Did "people" in fact get angry at the reporter for asking a 'trick question'? Did 'people' think Obama was dodging Bill O'reilly's questions? Those statements are true only if you are a republican (1/2 of the country) and completely false if you are a democrat (the other half). You know that the reverse is also true, and at least half this country thinks Bill O'Reilly is all about trick questions and that Sarah Palin tried to dodge the question in her interview. So who exactly are the "people" you refer to? Because most white people I know ridiculed Sarah Palin for that (perhaps even unfairly, I need to admit, as much as I loath her, because "the Bush Doctrine" was a rather obscure term prior to that interview). I've never heard racists accuse black people of "trying to be too intellectual". How is that white privilege when the reverse hypocricy is also going on with democrats viewing Palin's interview as totally fair, but Obama as unjustly persecuted on O'Reilly (I think both interviews had some unfair elements)? I really don't think color entered into that one.

I think white privilege exists. It's not that point I am taking issue with. It is the way you presented it. I think you do a disservice to this campaign when you ascribe racist undertones to every single element of it and focus solely on that as the force that guides the campaign. If Obama embodies ANYTHING, it is the idea that we can overcome this dogged enslavement (pun intended) to the victim role by repeating this same story over and over as if nothing has changed or can change. I wonder why there has been no acknowledgement that there is an equal force of absolutely positive race-neutral political sentiment out there. Because despite your last admonishment to "Don", have YOU read the polls? Barack Obama is back in the lead, and the vast majority of those polled are "average white people". You write to "Don":

"The average white person DOES buy [McCain's] bullshit, and is going to vote for him."

WHAT? Are you crazy? You sound like somebody VERY attached to that being true. You even express that as some sort of command (and IS going to vote for him). You sound kind of like the people who said "No black man will ever be elected to president" and somehow feel befuddled now that a black man was voted by his party to be their candidate and is in the lead for the race toward the presidency. I resent the negation of the MAJORITY of the white public who are voting for a black man they think is an articulate, intelligent, amazing politician, and who believe that Sarah Palin is white trash. Frankly, I feel we are taking back this country, and I take exception to the idea that the right-wing right completely define for you what the overriding "American" mentality is. HALF of the country is living in a racist America. The other half is not (or not in the way you describe in some of your points). Let's stop giving the racist side all the weight and power of defining this country. Because otherwise, it will never change.

Lest you misunderstand, I am not in denial. I see them, and I see your points. But we are working very hard toward overcoming this and making history, and to my eyes, it is working. And our supposed cheerleader (you) seems to me to be cheering "No you can't!" "This is almost impossible!" "Don't you see how stacked the deck is?" "Don't look at all those white people cheering you on! Look over there at the people booing! Look how hard they are booing! That woman isn't booing, but secretly she wants to be booing! And that man isn't booing but he's wearing a black shirt, which is almost like wearing a boo! Everybody is booing or secretly booing!"

You will see what you are looking for. And you will keep manifesting what you focus on and that the "truth" you tell yourself is insurmountable.

Just my two cents.

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Not far enough

' "The average white person DOES buy [McCain's] bullshit, and is going to vote for him." '

"WHAT? Are you crazy? You sound like somebody VERY attached to that being true."

Kudos to you that you are among those working hard to overcome obstacles in the Obama campaign, but in defense of Wise's entry I have to say that just because you are offended by the tone of his words doesn't make the points and facts he outlines any less true. And in the case of surmounting or curing any problem, the cause must be known first. These are the realities of life that must be urgently confronted and no amount of handwringing over what you and others think of as ill-timed written revelations on the subjects of racism and privilege should alter that necessity.

And one last thing, as an Obama supporter I can assure he and the rest of us are strong enough to take it. One can be simultaneously optimistic and informed.

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Hold Up

"A lot of people (I might even say the majority) of this country thinks Sarah Palin is a redneck hillbilly and Barack Obama a class act."

So what? This just means that there is a large portion of the country that subscribes to classist presuppositions. Like Tim says, race isn't everything. But notice how this works. Obama has had to fight for YEARS to be viewed as a class act, setting up in 2004 his brilliant speech (not that I was that moved but it was clearly a successful speech) that let him rise to a luminary status. He has to constantly watch his every utterance not to be taken out of context thanks to race. Meanwhile, Palin EXPLICITLY goes after the rednecks! She is courting that vote and cultivating that image! And she can get away with an image that says that it's OKAY to be poor and have kids out of wedlock and play with guns because she's white. Imagine if Obama had a black woman VP who had a daughter with a bun in the oven, and who talked about how fun it was to shoot with the many guns she has, and so forth. Palin gets defended for doing this while Obama does not have that defense.

"Did "people" in fact get angry at the reporter for asking a 'trick question'? Did 'people' think Obama was dodging Bill O'reilly's questions? Those statements are true only if you are a republican (1/2 of the country) and completely false if you are a democrat (the other half)."

So what? Does white privilege matter any less if you only get HALF the country to defend something that'd be rightly considered blatantly stupid if it came from a black man or woman? Yes, Tim DOES know there are Democrats. He knows there's more than FOX News. But the fact that the argument is even taken SERIOUSLY, that the excuse is offered and apparently believed, is the point.

"WHAT? Are you crazy? You sound like somebody VERY attached to that being true. You even express that as some sort of command (and IS going to vote for him). You sound kind of like the people who said "No black man will ever be elected to president" and somehow feel befuddled now that a black man was voted by his party to be their candidate and is in the lead for the race toward the presidency."

Before Obama came along, the possibility didn't seem to be in the cards. No one really predicted it, so stop blaming Tim for not breaking ranks on that one. Furthermore, actual FACTS show that Obama suffered for his race in the primaries and is suffering similarly now. It's simple, dude: Just look at polls. White folks are more likely to believe the kind of crap McCain spews than blacks. I don't think it's the majority in this day and age, but Tim has poll evidence to back that up and you don't have counter-evidence.

I think all your arguments suffer from similar errors.

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Dude.

I agree 100% about the guns and the poverty and kids out of wedlock points. I already said that. Those are absolutely valid "white privilege" points. I pointed out examples I disagreed with, like the media interviews. And incidentally, I am in agreement with a lot of what is said here. I just think that some healthy debate may expand the ways in which we look at our issues. I think basically we have the same ideals here.

Of course I know it took years for Obama to get to this historic point. I just want the achievement to be acknowledged rather than ignoring it because you are more attached to the other story line where equality is not going to be possible because the country is inherently racist.

"Before Obama came along, the possibility didn't seem to be in the cards. No one really predicted it, so stop blaming Tim for not breaking ranks on that one."

But clearly it was and is in the cards, so I will take issue when people still won't "break ranks" even in the face of evidence that things are improving. If that seemed impossible a few years ago and now seems not to be impossible, why is it so inconceivable that we might be moving toward an environment of equality in this country?

"It's simple, dude: Just look at polls. White folks are more likely to believe the kind of crap McCain spews than blacks. I don't think it's the majority in this day and age, but Tim has poll evidence to back that up and you don't have counter-evidence."

Counter-evidence: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/09/15/daily61.html

And I'm not a dude. Though that is usually the assumption in anonymous forums. I am a woman. This is your nation on male privilege. But let's not open that can of worms. ;-)

 

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Take A Closer Look

You're saying we shouldn't err on the side of underestimating Obama's achievement, I'm saying we shouldn't err on the side of overestimating it. Now, what is the impact of doing either? White people's natural inclination is generally to downplay race and overplay progress and change. So when we err on the side of underestimating Obama's achievement, we err on the side of getting out of white comfort zones and getting into social change modes. I think the commitment couldn't be clearer.

Obama's achievement is real, but I would argue it is a lagging indicator, not a leading one: The possibility is even available because of existing change, and is not likely to generate new change. In fact, it's fairly likely, as it already has been, to have the effect of letting whites think they're off the hook.

Obama managed to get together critical mass to make the campaign his, yes. And I personally believe he will win the Presidency. But Obama's success is not a sign that things are improving, and in fact the way the campaign has played out has shown that many problems are still simmering right underneath the surface. Obama's success will be a symbol, true, of how far the country has come. But notice how problematic that in and of itself is. The sign of racial integration and racial success isn't one black President. It's the idea of a black President being normal, being successive. It's blacks occupying 13% of seats of power. Not a tiny fraction of that number. The very extraordinariness of Obama's achievement is an indication of how far we have left to go.

Worse, a black President being in office doesn't help those structurally unemployed black folks for whom the few elements of the safety net remaining are routinely being cut. And if we white folks let Obama's successes weaken rather than strengthen our commitment to crossing the finish line, those people will actually be worse off for an Obama presidency.

Your counter-evidence is nothing of the sort. It says that Obama is leading by 2% in GENERAL polls, a margin that is within the standard margin of error for most polls in any respect. Even that razor thin margin, by the way, says a lot about American politics, including racism and the emptiness of the process. But, more importantly, the article doesn't mention RACE ever. As Tim and others here have linked you to, the white polling rate for Obama is in the 37% range and is truly abysmal. Where he fills in the gap and gets BARELY past McCain is because of overwhelming support from numerous minority groups. So if McCain wins, it'll be due to white people being unwilling to vote for a black man, and if Obama wins, it'll be due to minorities, particularly blacks, rallying together to overcome white resistance to change. That's a scary story, and hardly shows this much-vaunted "progress".

"Dude" is gender neutral in modern usage. Or at least when I use it.

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You're kidding right?

"Worse, a black President being in office doesn't help those structurally unemployed black folks for whom the few elements of the safety net remaining are routinely being cut. And if we white folks let Obama's successes weaken rather than strengthen our commitment to crossing the finish line, those people will actually be worse off for an Obama presidency."

WOW! So, using that logic, McCain will be harmful to senior citizens. After all, we 'white folks' will forget about all the other old people eating cat food and trying to decide if they want to take their meds or have a place to live that isn't a cardboard box. Old people will actually be worse off for a McCain presidency.

Do you read what you type, or do you just push buttons and hit 'submit' once the spell check stops? I'm still dumbfounded at what you try to pass off as a reasonable argument.

Please be kidding, seriously. Why stop at Obama hurting blacks? Hey let's stop feeding orphans because once they are fed, we 'white folk' will forget about them and they will all die of starvation.

The dissconnect in some people's defense of biggotry or their resistance to fixing a problem makes me sad for the world morons, like Bush and McCain, are leaving for my kid. An all time record deficit isn't enough for you, no, we need to make sure we avoid even trying to fix problems because that will make us forget to fix the very same problem.

ARGH!

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Baseless Character Attacks

"WOW! So, using that logic, McCain will be harmful to senior citizens. After all, we 'white folks' will forget about all the other old people eating cat food and trying to decide if they want to take their meds or have a place to live that isn't a cardboard box. Old people will actually be worse off for a McCain presidency."

You misidentify the logic in a way that I simply cannot fathom. It bewilders me how conversations about race cause elementary reason to evaporate.

Clearly, you would admit that McCain's presidency may or may not be harmful to seniors. (In fact, on average it will be, as on average McCain is allied with people who want to privatize Social Security, cut social spending, and put into place practices that lower growth and wages). The fact that McCain himself is a senior is moot to whether or not his plans will help seniors.

Similarly, Obama being black does not stop him from advocating plans that do not help or actively harm the majority of blacks. For example: Anything besides a full, immediate pullout from Iraq (and reparations for decades of tormenting the country) is a policy that makes Americans more hated, which threatens us all; is a policy that keeps disproportionately-racial-minority military forces in harm's way; is a policy that spends billions that could go into social spending. In the same vein, Obama's economic policies are more of the ruinous liberal neo-globalization that has been a key part of the black community's plight since the 1970s.

Between the two candidates, of course, Obama is better for pretty much everyone, especially blacks. This is not only due to his race but far more centrally due to the fact that his proposals are markedly better than McCain's. For example, Obama has something resembling an universal health care system. This will be a massive help to the poor in general and blacks in particular.

"Do you read what you type, or do you just push buttons and hit 'submit' once the spell check stops? I'm still dumbfounded at what you try to pass off as a reasonable argument."

I would ask you the reciprocal question, especially since you made precisely one argument in four paragraphs.

"Please be kidding, seriously. Why stop at Obama hurting blacks? Hey let's stop feeding orphans because once they are fed, we 'white folk' will forget about them and they will all die of starvation."

Since this was not my argument, congratulations at lowering the standards of discourse by beating up a strawman. Would you like a complimentary stick?

My position is not that Obama is a reformist improvement that causes whites to let themselves off the hook for further, more revolutionary improvement. This is a risk and could be the case, but it could also be that Obama will galvanize progressive forces, either because the emptiness of his progressive promises will generate anger or because his Presidency may be more receptive to progessive movements. In fact, the vast majority of the time I would be on your side of the argument, pointing out that social change has to start with reformist moves before it can get to more revolutionary territory.

No, I'm simply talking about Obama's policies, as (coincidentally) are numerous anti-racists and folks in the black community ranging from Jesse Jackson to Paul Street. Obama is a slick, corporate candidate who is barely more progressive than Clinton was and in some ways is worse.

Were Cynthia McKinney President, a black progressive woman, the situation would be quite different.

So, clearly, despite your hyperbole to the contrary, my argument hinges not on Obama's race but his proposals.

"An all time record deficit isn't enough for you, no, we need to make sure we avoid even trying to fix problems because that will make us forget to fix the very same problem."

Your skill at pummeling strawmen is exemplary. Please cite one quote in the 50+ comments I've made on this blog system alone that indicates that I believe anything remotely resembling this. If you cannot find such a quote, it would behoove you to apologize for baseless character attacks.

"The dissconnect in some people's defense of biggotry or their resistance to fixing a problem makes me sad for the world morons, like Bush and McCain, are leaving for my kid."

Trust me, I have much contempt for McCain and Bush. That doesn't make anyone the Democratic party has ever put forward good, just marginally better.

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define "racism"

Frankly, I feel we are taking back this country, and I take exception to the idea that the right-wing right completely define for you what the overriding "American" mentality is. HALF of the country is living in a racist America. The other half is not (or not in the way you describe in some of your points). Let's stop giving the racist side all the weight and power of defining this country. Because otherwise, it will never change.

what is your definition of racism?

you keep saying you believe in privilege, but the way you use "racism" contradicts your claim.

racism is racial prejudice plus the society wide culturally backed power to create social inequalities. these inequalities can be as overt as genocide and slavery and as subtle as using the term "white trash" in an unchallenged way.

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Comments

Well, the fact is that numerous polls show that around half of whites have numerous bigoted perceptions of blacks. And if one argues that denying racism has some racist impact, then the overwhelming white majority who thought that Katrina said NOTHING about race was engaging in at least one form of racism. Now, I think both Tim and I would point out that the majority of these sentiments are fairly thin and are not charged with malice. Heck, from my perception even the 5% or so who believe in black genetic inferiority are not all virulent about it. It's only a tiny minority who are the neo-Nazis, KKK, etc. (Then again, David Duke's brushes with near-success show that there is a lot of racism just underneath the surface too).

But the problem with the OP's argument on this point is that it's not even that 50% or so of the bigoted who are the problem. Rather, it's the institutions. Those are our governments, our businesses, our schools, our colleges, our charities, our neighborhood watches and indeed our neighborhoods that make racism real to the detriment of all. And it is foolish to say that only the right wing or Republicans are racist. Clinton led the fight to assault AFDC and welfare based on racist presuppositions with tremendous racist impact. "Liberal" media centers are routinely awful about the way they present blacks on all levels. And so forth. We do ourselves a disservice when we pat ourselves on the back for thinking that because we're not Southern Baptists, we're not racists. Hell, some blacks argue that they'd rather deal with the Southern Baptists because at least there the racism is naked. As Tim and Paul Street have pointed out, in the North we call segregated high schools MLK Jr. while in the South we call them John C. Calhoun. At least the latter is honest.

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a little more deconstruction

Heck, from my perception even the 5% or so who believe in black genetic inferiority are not all virulent about it. It's only a tiny minority who are the neo-Nazis, KKK, etc. (Then again, David Duke's brushes with near-success show that there is a lot of racism just underneath the surface too).

you keep looking at gross forms of overt racism. the problem with racism isn't just there. in fact the overt obvious forms aren't the hardest problems to deal with. the problem for people of color is the constant grinding down of the daily, subtle, "small" forms of racism. because it's so hard to make it stop. in fact you, yourself, contribute to this problem, by minimizing the subtle forms of racism. you keep pointing out grandiose and saying that most white people don't engage in them. this is true. but almost all white people engage in the careless unconscious unintentional racisms that tim wise is pointing out. you keep trying to take the focus off that.
But the problem with the OP's argument on this point is that it's not even that 50% or so of the bigoted who are the problem. Rather, it's the institutions. Those are our governments, our businesses, our schools, our colleges, our charities, our neighborhood watches and indeed our neighborhoods that make racism real to the detriment of all.

i'd like to point out that institutions are supported by individuals, as much as individuals are shaped by the institutions they are exposed to.
And it is foolish to say that only the right wing or Republicans are racist.

this is a red herring. the op didn't say this.

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You're Beating Up A Strawman

"you keep looking at gross forms of overt racism. the problem with racism isn't just there. in fact the overt obvious forms aren't the hardest problems to deal with. the problem for people of color is the constant grinding down of the daily, subtle, "small" forms of racism. because it's so hard to make it stop. in fact you, yourself, contribute to this problem, by minimizing the subtle forms of racism. you keep pointing out grandiose and saying that most white people don't engage in them. this is true. but almost all white people engage in the careless unconscious unintentional racisms that tim wise is pointing out. you keep trying to take the focus off that."

I agree, Peter. That's why I immediately said PRECISELY THAT: That the remaining 50% of people who have weaker but still racist views about blacks do matter, and that while it is possible to reach those people and educate them there is a process involved where they have to be convinced, defenses have to be brought down, red herrings and non sequiturs debated, etc.

Peter, just read my comments on this blog post to Don, ME, etc. Then reply back. If you still think that I am trying to take the focus off of less overt prejudice and racism, particularly institutional racism, I don't know what I can say.

"i'd like to point out that institutions are supported by individuals, as much as individuals are shaped by the institutions they are exposed to."

Which is irrelevant to my point. Let's make an analogy: If I say that the institution of the military invaded Iraq despite a majority's objections and stays there despite a majority's objections, would you tell me that, yes, the military does in fact have PEOPLE in it? Of course not. So, yes, some individuals do at the end of the day have to make racist decisions. But the problem is that we rarely (though often enough to be a serious problem) see an employer say, "I'm not gonna hire this n*****". Rather, what happens is that an employer looking through a hundred applications for ten positions is already swamped for time. They read through them briefly and start sorting. And it turns out that when they start sorting, they put the black-sounding names closer to the bottom of the pile. So I'd imagine that even Tim would say that we don't have nearly as many cases of someone just refusing to hire a black man as someone PREFERRING to hire a white guy because of more subtle prejudice. That was your point above, in fact, so it seems we're all on the same page.

Let's take one of many serious examples: Blacks and Latinos competing for the same positions. A lot of the time, an employer will hire an illegal immigrant not because they DON'T want to hire the black guy but because the Mexican can be threatened with deportation and paid less. Yet that obviously has racist impacts on both groups. So we see one of numerous examples where a minimum of or no racist intent can lead to racist outcome. I think this is probably the most serious problem facing blacks today. The ghetto's consistent poverty since the 70s, for example, has mostly to do with neo-liberal regimes, though the additional problems they face from poor whites has to do with that plus employment discrimination, mortgage discrimination, housing discrimination that keeps them in the inner city, a racist criminal justice system, etc. etc.

Now, why does this matter? Because it means that, for example, we need to do less work convincing people that blacks are human and more work raising education about institutional practices that cause racist outcomes. Tim, for example, works with police departments and other institutions to combat their problems with racist treatment, and what he reports is that most of the time they have no idea that they're doing those things and are shocked to discover it.

"this is a red herring. the op didn't say this."

That was a reply to a commenter.

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the idea that we only see

the idea that we only see racism if we look for it is some crazy-ass new age shit, frankly. Listen, I think Obama may still win, but if he does it will be in spite of widespread white opposition...have you actually read the polls? The latest show Obama getting 37-whopping percent of the white vote...that's the truth, and that's pretty much in line with what whites have done in the last several presidential elections, and that was when the democrat was white, and racism didn't even come directly into play...I think you are high as a kite if you think Obama is going to get more than 37, perhaps 38 percent of the white vote...I travel all across the country and have the chance to interact with white folks from more than whatever group you're talking too...and I;m telling you. most white folks are not even thinking of voting for him...this doesn't mean he can't win, but it will be because of folks of color, not whites...you need to deal with that reality and stop running from it, or acting as if whites are really liberal and progressive at heart. They are not.

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Actually...

It might be because we're talking about who votes versus general opinion polls, but I'm sure I don't need to cite Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky's extensive analyses of polling showing that the majority of Americans down the line resonate with progressive views. True, most of those polls aggregate non-white data, but it's really not likely that the vast majorities who, say, express in Chicago Council of Foreign Relations polls that they want to see the CTBT signed and moves towards disarmament are all black. Clearly a majority even of white folks resonate with those views. Of course, if we're talking about those who tend to vote, then I think this is probably true, but also bear in mind that those who vote for Repubs (as I'm sure you're aware) routinely express revulsion at the Repubs' actual policy platforms. In short, I think that extrapolating from somewhat tepid white support for Obama to the idea that there isn't widespread progressive sentiment in the nation is a bad leap.

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37%?

Tim, where are you getting that 37% of the white vote statistic? Can you cite your source? I am interested in seeing that. It doesn't make sense to me, as Obama has a 3 point lead (at the moment, though it's pulling even again) over McCain, and I believe most of the polled voters are white as most registered voters are white. If you are right, it would mean that 63% of white voters were voting for McCain. This could be true, but I suspect it isn't. I think, as in the past few elections, whites are still split down the middle along party lines. Can you show me where you found those stats?

Actually, my calculations show me your stats can't be right...Your statement that only 37% of whites are voting for Obama and if Obama wins it will because of the blacks that vote him in is simply a provably false statement. A few math equations prove that theory wrong. Only 13% of our population is black. If all 13% exercise their right to vote and all of them vote for Obama, they still will not vote Obama into office with only 37% of whites voting Obama.

As an example, lets say 100 people vote in the election. 13% are black, and vote all Obama (13 votes). We have 87 votes left over. Let's even IMPROVE your stats (for the sake of easier math) and say 40% of those vote Obama and 60% McCain. That's 34.8 votes for Obama and 52.2 votes for McCain. Added to Obama's 13 black votes, that makes 47.8 votes for him, 52.2 for McCain. So you see, for Obama to be in his lead (or even tied) position in the polls, a lot more than 37% of whites are voting for him, and it isn't simply "because of folks of color" he will win.

I know you can't believe that, even with the numbers there, because, to my point, you believe what you believe and you cannot see anything else than what you are fighting. You will even make the numbers WORSE than what they really are.

You say "you need to deal with that reality and stop running from it, or acting as if whites are really liberal and progressive at heart. They are not." Cool. Thanks for the memo. I better let half the country (most of whom are white) voting for Obama know they made a big mistake. I guess we all must be having an identity crisis. Sorry. Hadn't realized.

I'm saddened by the tone on here. I'm not running from anything. I am running TOWARD something else. In the end, I guess I think more can be achieved by cheering your team than booing the opponent.

 

 

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You are forgetting that

You are forgetting that "folks of color" doesn't just mean black people. Don't forget Hispanics, who number more than blacks. Do those calculations again. So even if all 13% of the black population votes for Obama, it wouldn't take too many more hispanic votes to push Obama's percentage over the 50% mark and give him a victory over McCain.

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Hispanic Lumping

Ada: To be fair to ME, remember that many Hispanics are lumped into "white" categories in polling and studies.

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ME: The fact that you don't

ME: The fact that you don't spend a lot of time in these arguments couldn't be clearer. Because there's more than just black and white. Some Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, and other ethnic groups are counted separately for purposes of polling and social study. THAT'S where that extra group is coming from. Only 74% of the country is white.

"I'm saddened by the tone on here. I'm not running from anything. I am running TOWARD something else. In the end, I guess I think more can be achieved by cheering your team than booing the opponent."

That's markedly different from failing to say that your opponent really is as bad as she is.

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Hey now

As a big believer in a lot of crazy-ass New Age shit, I feel misrepresented.

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um, most white people are voting for McCain

Check the polls. Here's the money quote from ARG:

"McCain leads Obama 54% to 38% among white voters (78% of likely voters)."

http://americanresearchgroup.com/

54% to 38% is a BIG difference. Obama is NOT going to win the white vote this election.  You should really google this stuff before you accuse Mr. Wise of being "crazy".

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Thanks

Thanks for those statistics. I couldn't find them anywhere when I Googled numerous search terms. Incidentally, this poll you link to also shows McCain with a 3 point lead, which is not in keeping with the most recent polls other major polling organizations have done. (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/us/general_electi...). All of the major polls (as in the link above) show Obama with a lead, Gallup as high as a 6 point lead. The average of all of them is around 3 points. Just saying. I have trouble faithfully believing the one poll that varies wildly from the main 8.

However, IF these polls are true, I would be even more shocked by how out of touch people are and I think registered democrats have more idiots in their (our) party than I previously believed. How can any self-respecting democrat listen to McCain and Palin and decide to switch sides at this point? And who are these 6% of black voters voting for McCain? Talk about having internalized some serious white privilege.

Thanks for passing the link on. I'm not sure which polls to believe, but this at least gave me some clarity about where these figures being cited were coming from. I guess we won't know how it really goes down until November.

PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!!!!

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The Point is Still Clear

ME: Then alter the value somewhat. Maybe Obama is courting, say, 40% to 45% of the white vote. Values could change as it approaches election day, after all, depending on how much Obama can get past the stigma and how much McCain can amplify the stigma as well as chance events like another Wright debacle. Heck, maybe it's even a flat 50%. But the point is that, like in most presidential elections, the white vote is only tepidly Democratic whereas the black vote is enthusiastically so. If Obama wins, as with Kerry and Gore (who won in the sense of getting more votes and actually winning the game) and Clinton, it'll be due to overwhelming black support. That's the point.

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Very astute

Now here is a viewpoint that seems reasonable.

Be careful and review your comment that half of America is racist...IF it is true, "they" are equally divided (more or less) on both sides. All Republicans aren't wrong as all Democrats aren't right.

Regarding the presidential candidate you support, my concern is over the backtracking on the funding issue. I'm concerned he is Clinton, repackaged. What does he really believe?

e.g. Ohio straight to San Francisco...He seems to say what people want to hear and not what he believes. Or does he believe only what people want to hear?

 

 

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Your Point?

No, Tai, that's bad statistics. There is no logical reason to conclude that if half of America is racist (and the numbers are higher depending on where you're looking but let's say it's 55% for now) those numbers cluster evenly across partisna lines. It could be that they cluster almost all in one party or another. I'd say that the Republicans have a much higher percentage of those whites with racist presuppositions. But I fail to see your point in any respect.

Yeah, he might be Clinton repackaged. Do you care? Does it matter if the alternative is Bush repackaged? Obama is a straight-line corporate, statist, reactionary candidate who has deluded people with very smart politicking into thinking he's progressive. But the same thing was true about Kerry, Gore and Clinton, and that didn't stop people from voting for him. Me, I'll vote Green since I'm Californian.

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Speaking of stats...

Frederic,

"I'd say that the Republicans have a much higher percentage of those whites with racist presuppositions."

Well I guess that depends on your definition of racist. Your comment helps define, to me, that racism, at least as it is used in this blog, only applies to whites on blacks, and not visa versa or disregarding the other "minorities" where in California are, collectively,the majority.

We need to understand racism in a broader sense and how to avoid it, not how to gain power and return the "favor".

By the way, I am surprised as your analysis of Sen. Obama (Obama). Not sure who he really is and that goes very far to support your claim.

At one time, Obama could have locked my vote but he has not handled many situations outside the regular ol' political machinery. I'm not sure he can earn my vote back but we'll see.

Regarding voting 3rd party in Nov. Once it comes to the final say I'll have to decide between either the Democratic or Republican party. Prior to this, the election process allows for more voices but in the end it comes down to electing one leader and moving on.

I feel to break the current poisonous partisan political environment, we need to make a choice and support whoever wins until the next election cycle. This is off topic and poorly worded but relevant to how I am trying to highlight the ills of Tim Wise's political attack on the Republican Party through his white privilege essay.

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You're Still Not Listening

"Well I guess that depends on your definition of racist. Your comment helps define, to me, that racism, at least as it is used in this blog, only applies to whites on blacks, and not visa versa or disregarding the other "minorities" where in California are, collectively,the majority."

Ummmm, no, that's not true. It's simply that those are the polls cited to demonstrate the point. The discussion started from comparing Obama to McCain/Palin in the contet of white privilege. Broadening the discussion to include Asians (further divided into Chinese, Japanese, Viet, Lao, Cambodians, Thai, etc.), Arabs, Muslims, Persians, Indians, Latina/os and so forth only makes the white privilege that much more pernicious. And, yes, if you start noting that whites are often racist not only against blacks but many groups (anti-Arab racism being probably the most virulent and dangerous), then the proportions of racists in the country INCREASE and the proportion of racists and racism in the Republican Party increases even more.

But your argument is that Asians are doing fine and not suffering from racism. So it seems that you would accept this viewpoint. Choose one or the other, Tai: Either Asians aren't suffering and therefore racism DOES only apply to blacks, or they are and racism effects numerous groups.

The problem, Tai, is twofold.

First, you come into a discussion about anti-black institutional racism and white privilege and expect everyone to magically mention other ethnicities at the same time. By your reasoning, I should call you a homophobe or not sensitive to the plights of gays because, hey, you haven't brought up homosexuality yet! When you and others brought up other ethnic groups, discussion went there.

Second, anti-black racism is uniquely pernicious, uniquely widespread and devastating to a large community. Asians, and Arabs, and so forth, simply don't have the same problems as blacks. In America, there tends to be a three-tier system (see Steinberg, "The Ethnic Myth", for extensive discussion): "Whites", the then-immigrant groups (which have varied from the Irish to the Italians in our history), and blacks and Native Americans. Comparing the plight of, say, Jews or Irish to blacks is comparing cross-group. This is why those bringing up the Asian model minority myth so fundamentally mislead us and say something that really seems so idiotic and so impossible against the backdrop of other evidence: They're simply not in the same boat.

Asians and Latina/os are interesting in this regard because Chinese immigrants have been arriving here since the 1800s and Latina/os have been a part of the fabric of American life since the Mexican-American War. But nonetheless there are differences, some doors open that have simply never been open for blacks.

"We need to understand racism in a broader sense and how to avoid it, not how to gain power and return the "favor"."

This is quite true, Tai, but you seem to adamant against admitting that white privilege is real, that institutional privilege against blacks is real, and that this matters in the context of the election. When you simply say that, you will find a lot less hostility to your views. Because otherwise, you're simply offering a red herring.

"By the way, I am surprised as your analysis of Sen. Obama (Obama). Not sure who he really is and that goes very far to support your claim."

Which I think illustrates the point. When I read Tim's piece, I saw it saying what it purported to say: White privilege is real and it is an impediment to Obama. Obama's merits or debits are a separate discussion from that factual analysis. People desperately want to avoid talking about race, so they'll bring up Obama's merits or abortion or even anti-Asian racism, instead of simply saying the hard facts.

"At one time, Obama could have locked my vote but he has not handled many situations outside the regular ol' political machinery. I'm not sure he can earn my vote back but we'll see."

I cannot see how you can say this.

You could think McCain is better. In which case, we have much deeper problems to discuss.

You could think that you want to stay home instead of voting for Obama. While I empathize with this viewpoint, I cannot excuse it. A simple vote is so essential to opposing a much worse world.

You could be voting for a third party. That'd be fair enough, and I'd support that. But if you're the type who is voting for the third party, you should also have the political savvy to recognize that in the game of political chicken you have to turn away if there's a risk of McCain's victory.

"Regarding voting 3rd party in Nov. Once it comes to the final say I'll have to decide between either the Democratic or Republican party. Prior to this, the election process allows for more voices but in the end it comes down to electing one leader and moving on."

Well, voting for a third party has two functions.

First, it builds the power and prestige of that party. The bigger the party, the more exposure, the more acknowledgement of issues. There are things in the public discourse now that were just impossible a decade ago.

Second, it sends a clear message to the party closer to the center: Talk more like this. In a sense, the Christian conservatives did this very thing, only from the inside: They made clear through local elections, moving onto state then federal elections, that they would back their own candidates if the main party wasn't going to express their needs or interests.

"I feel to break the current poisonous partisan political environment, we need to make a choice and support whoever wins until the next election cycle. This is off topic and poorly worded but relevant to how I am trying to highlight the ills of Tim Wise's political attack on the Republican Party through his white privilege essay."

But that's idiotic. There is good and evil in this world, Tai. Bombing another country is evil. It is our responsibility as those whose silence empowers the bombers, whose tax dollars fund them and whose action could end the illegal, immoral occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan (among a host of other issues) to continue to speak. And even if the slightly better candidate wins, it is our job to continue to rally, continue to protest, continue to raise the costs until that candidate is forced to do the right things: Protect the poor, end American empire, protect the ecology, etc.

It is only in a society with a fascist political culture that we can think that we need to support whoever wins. The point of a democracy is that the guy who wins is still answerable to us, is still our representative, and we must still express our beliefs and stand for them.

In any respect, for the last time Tai: Tim is not talking about the Republican Party. He's talking about white privilege. Yes, on average the Republicans are worse regarding racism and white privilege than the Dems. But just as with empire, or capital, or corporations, or gender, the Dems are only marginally better, the slightly more progressive half of the one ruling business class. Obama's election doesn't change that, and Tim's point is not least that white privilege is still real and must still be combatted, independently of partisan politics, independent of empire, independent of capital and the war on the poor and class.

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Demographics

I wanted to also add that in this blog posting, you cite the statistics:

"whites hold about ninety percent of all the management level jobs in this country, receive about ninety-four percent of government contract dollars, and hold ninety percent of tenured faculty positions on college campuses."

I just want to point out that while these stats sound terribly racist, they certainly aren't overwhelmingly damning evidence of racism when you consider the country's demographics. You don't mention that whites make up 74% of the population here (66% when you don't count white hispanics, according to Wikipedia), with 13.4% blacks/African Americans. So while it isn't yet weighted exactly the way the population is weighted, it's not wildly far off. I think the current gap is because blacks have not had the rights to go to college very long (only a few generations) and are slowly gaining ground. It takes a few generations to catch up, but they are in fact catching up, and they are not as far from the target as your statistics imply. I can imagine, in the absence of country demographics, some people would mistakenly think the goal is 50% white and 50% minority. But that would be totally unbalanced, as it doesn't reflect the overall demographics. If 13% of management jobs and 13% of tenured faculty positions are ultimately held by blacks, they will have achieved equality in terms of those areas.

I choose to see the glass as half full.

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So What?

Ummm, yeah, that IS racist and it is very bad. It means that blacks are represented at AT LEAST 1/2 of the level they should be. And, by the way, that's 94% WHITE, not 94% non-black, so that means that that remaining 6-10% has competition from ALL non-white ethnic groups: Black, Asian, Arab, Latino (when not bundled in with white), etc. Taking all that into account, it pretty much ends up being that 1/2 - 1/5 of the spots that should be filled by a black man or woman are thusly filled. Now, notice that this is DESPITE the claim that the black middle class is doing so much better and is catching up! How can they continue to close that gap if the highest positions are overwhelmingly closed off?

Further, it's you who are ignoring the broader data. Because, as Tim ALSO notes, the whites in those positions routinely squeak in with less competition and worse resumes. So this means that those few blacks who ARE in upper management or in CEO positions are going to be OVERWHELMINGLY qualified. That is also evidence of racism.

Of course the proportions should be 66% whites, 8% white Hispanics, 13.4% blacks, and so forth, ideally, but when it is 90% white, that means that at least 26% of the population has to compete for that remaining 10% of seating. Whites have a lot of the most powerful jobs in the country, giving continued wealth and policy-making influence, set aside by fiat, giving them a racial security blanket. This matters so tremendously I cannot imagine what your point is.